The rapid use of computers in the recent past in my sectors of the economy has no doubt impacted on the lives of many in a big way. Consequently, the use of computers is therefore universal, with their application ranging from running a business firm, diagnosing a disease all the way to constructing and even launching a space machine. Although computers are largely the work of scientists, and it is therefore natural that a large body of their applications is geared towards serving the scientists themselves, their uses have over-flown to other unprecedented areas notably in criminology.
Consequently, computers are nowadays widely applied in forensic and other related areas. In light of the above, this paper sets out to evaluate how computers and computer technology has affected investigations and other law enforcement activities.
A walk around any police station reveals the fast technological revolution that is occurring within our law enforcement agencies. In the next few years, a computer coupled with full internet connectivity will to our investigators be as critical as a mobile phone nowadays is.
The only soft aspect to such a prediction is probably the time, owing to the various differences and development gaps that do exist among countries and conventions. That numerous advantages could emanate from computer use in investigations and other law enforcement activities is beyond doubt. Computers have become an important part of everybody’s life and this does not exclude criminals, who also have the technical know to hack into computer networks while electronic evidence has often played a major role in courts.
The numerous exchange of information taking place especially over the internet may be convenient for us, but also poses an opportunity for criminals. Computer use advantage is especially realized in investigating corporate fraud, disputes involving intellectual property and theft, breach of contract as well as asset recovery. Only through computers and computer technology can such crimes be investigated and their evidence made admissible in court. This may include any valuable data that may have been lost or deleted (ForensicScience, 2009).
Offenders especially in the coporate crimes and fraud often destroy any traces of information that could give clues to the investigation teams in the bid to uncover the perpetrators of the crime. Since most of the evidence is in form of transactions in computer systems, they delete the transactions logs from such systems. However, through computers, is is possible for information such as electronic deleted data to be retrieved. Any lost information that may be paramount to a particular case, whether lost, damaged or deleted can be recovered and tabled in court of law as evidence.
According to the writings of ForensicScience, the bottom line advantage in the use of technology in investigations is the computer’s ability to search and analyze mountains of data quickly, easily and efficiently. Computers can for example search keywords in a mass of information, and even in different languages. This is a key advantage especially in the investigation of cyber crimes which can easily go well across boarders through the internet (ForensicScience, 2009).
However, one of the main disadvantages of computer use in investigations according to forensicScience is the cost. The article reckons that computer forensics hire computer technology in rates of hours, though this may depend on the particular case, and complex cases have been known to take long, thus making the entire process expensive. Another disadvantage is that when retrieving data, analysts may, though in rare cases, advertently disclose some privileged info (ForensicScience, 2009).
Lastly, the malleability of computers can always work to anybody’s and anything’s disadvantage. Computers can be tailored to do virtually anything through software programs. As such, they can often be used to doctor even high motion pictures and images as well as other forms of evidence thus implicating innocent persons in courts of law. In addition, people, especially professionals have been cited blaming their own mistakes on computers and as such, affirming the intent of an offender in a particular crime involving computers has proved to be challenging (Johnson & Nissenbaum, 2009).
A perfect example of a case where computer technology was used in investigations is in the case of Marcus Hess. This case was told by Cliff Stoll who was initially an astronomer and designed telescopes but later turned to computers where he joined Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory in California as a system administrator. In this job, he was assigned the task of tracking down the discrepancies on the LBL accounts. Being a good detective, he followed every trail, an action that made him conclude that firstly, the security checks were at their minimal and had been compromised. As Cliff noted, the offender had even gained access to the “root” or system privileges and was also able to detect any action that the offender did. Through use technology, a plot was hatched to trap the offender (Kremen, 2008).
Stoll contacted the local authorities who traced the offenders call all the way to a Tymnet switch in Oakland, California. Tymnet refers to the “gateway” that a user called in order to be routed to any of the computer systems that used the Tymnet service. Since the call came from Oakland, then Stoll was sure of one thing, that the offender was not an insider and the crime was not an inside job. The technical officials at Tymnet helped LBL with all traces since the call records were confusing. At times, calls would appear to originate from the United States while they appeared to originate from London at other times. Eventually, with the help of AT&T IT Company and the FBI, it became clear that those calls were being piggybacked over entire Europe, though their true origin was West Germany. Later, the FBI and the German government were able to break through and caught Marcus Hess in the act (Kremen, 2008).
From the foregoing, the role of computer technology in all aspects of our lives can neither be overlooked nor their importance given more emphasis. Crimes and those behind them are equally advancing, and if the forces charged with the responsibility of handling crimes are to keep abreast, they do not have much of an option apart from embracing technology. With technology, it becomes possible to trace even sophisticated crimes and bring their perpetrators to book. Though technologies pose some challenges to crime investigation, the benefits accruing from their application outweigh the challenges and as such, technology should be adopted in law enforcement efforts.
ForensicScience. (2009). Advantages and Disadvantages of Computer Forensics. Retrieved July 13, 2010, from http://www.anushreepatil.ewebsite.com/articles/advantages-and-disadvantages-of-computer-forensics.html
Johnson, D. G., & Nissenbaum, H. F. (2009). Computers, ethics & social values. Michigan: University of Michigan.
Kremen, S. H. (2008). ComputerForensics. Retrieved July 13, 2010, from http://www.shk-dplc.com/cfo/articles/hack.htm
Cite this Technology on Criminology
Technology on Criminology. (2017, Jan 30). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/technology-on-criminology/